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Choosing an Agent Under Your Power of Attorney

One of the most important steps you have to take when creating a power of attorney is selecting the proper agent. The agent you choose will be responsible for performing the tasks you have identified in the power of attorney document. Because no two powers of attorney are identical and each will require different qualities in order for the agent to perform the job, you need to choose your agent wisely. To help you do this, here are some tips you might want to consider.

Tip 1.  Look beyond family when choosing an agent for power of attorney.

A power of attorney grants your agent significant authority. Your agent will be able to make decisions on your behalf, and these decisions will have the same legal binding effect as if you had made them yourself. Because of the significant authority an agent has, many people who create a power of attorney choose close family members they trust.

While choosing a family member is often a good idea, you shouldn’t automatically look towards family members exclusively. The agent you need is one who will be able to perform all the tasks required under the power of attorney document. This might include, for example, the ability to make financial decisions after taking into account all the relevant information. If a family member is not very good at making financial decisions, you might want to look at an advisor, close friend, or professional organization to serve as your agent.

Tip 2. Consider the practical limitations of location.

When you select an agent, your agent will be expected to interact with others on your behalf. These third parties can be located anywhere, but will most likely be located close to where you live. Because the agent will have to stand in your place and act as your representative, it is often a good idea to choose an agent who is also located near you. While some agents can perform their duties regardless of where they are located, the practical limitations of distance often require an agent located in the same vicinity as you and the third parties.

Tip 3. Consider ability and willingness.

It’s important to remember that your agent has to be willing and able to serve in the position. While you can select anyone you like and name that person in the power of attorney document as your agent, this doesn’t mean the agent will be required to serve as your representative. Agents have to be capable adults. Always be sure to first ask someone if they are willing to serve as your agent before you include them in the document. You should also, at the very least, you should include several names of potential replacement agents in case your first choice cannot serve.

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